Impact on the Community
- The small local schools work hard to develop links within in their local village communities and this will just not be the same in one large primary school.
- I feel that the village primary schools are the heart of the community.
- The long-term effect of this would, I believe, drive away young families from the Swansea valley who have, traditionally, been attracted to the area due to the close relationship of these communities and their schools.
- The sense of community is so important in villages such as ours in the Swansea Valley and we cannot lose this. It’s important for our villages, the people and the whole community to keep the schools individualized and give their communities their purpose.
- These schools were built close to the communities they serve for a purpose! They are there to enable parents and children to have easy access, they are not just there to provide education to children but also as a HUB for the community.
A Community Impact Assessment (CIA) has been undertaken for the purpose of providing information on the impact of the proposal on the local community’s access to facilities and services currently available at the three schools. It has been prepared in line with the requirements of the Welsh Government’s School Organisation Code.
The CIA contains a comprehensive assessment of the facilities and services in the Swansea Valley and while the need to understand and mitigate the impact of a school closure proposal on a community is a right and proper consideration, the central factor in determining school organisation proposals should be one of securing the best educational offer for pupils.
It is not necessarily the case that by closing a school the community in which it is situated automatically declines. There is no reason to suggest that by attending school outside of the village children and young people will no longer ‘belong’ to the community where they live. The CIA highlights the fact that many community based activities and events are not reliant on the schools and so it is not apparent why these activities would not continue, or why children and young people who currently enjoy participating in them would not want to do so should they attend school elsewhere. Schools are open to pupils for 190 days of the year. Outside of the school day; that is, before and after school, at weekends and during school holidays, pupils will be in the areas where they live and available to make use of local facilities.
It is already the case that pupils across the Swansea Valley attend schools other than their local school, and that pupils attending the three schools named in this proposal do not all live in the location of the school they attend. Pupils from the area attend schools across Neath Port Talbot and other local authorities for a variety of reasons. Children and young people do not only mix socially through their schooling, as many will attend local after school groups or be part of wider community events. There is no reason why this wouldn’t continue to be an important part of their lives should the proposal go forward. In other communities where school closures have taken place and where fears have existed that pupils would lose their sense of identity, it appears that this that this has not happened and that pupils continue to take part in community events.
Previous school reorganisation proposals which have created brand new schools have been noted to attract more families to the area and have seen an increase in ‘movers-in’. It is unlikely that this proposal, which not only seeks to provide a new school but also improved leisure facilities, will not have the same effect.